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Pa. Has Its Own Religious Freedom Act, But It Differs From Indiana's In Major Way

By Alexandria Hoff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Religious freedom versus civil rights: This touchy conversation has ended up in our laps and that's where Pennsylvania's own religious freedom law has been sitting for 13 years.

"This is just a reiteration of what has always been debated in our country," a pedestrian says.

"I don't know. It's really personal, I'm gay...I'm married," adds another.

"Everybody who in some way feels different should be concerned," says Angela Giampolo.

In 2002 Pennsylvania passed it's own Religious Restoration Act. It's similar to Indiana's and now Arkansas religious freedom law, but different in a key way.

"The difference with the Religious Act that we have here is that there is an explicit exception for businesses," Angela says.

That means here in Pennsylvania non-profits can chose to not serve someone for religious reasons; for profit businesses cannot.

Unlike New Jersey and Delaware, Pennsylvania does not have a statewide anti-discrimination law, but several other municipalities like Philadelphia established their own ordinances.

Today, Pennsylvania Senator Daylin Leach asked Governor Wolf to continue opposing the Indiana law.

"The Indiana law not only is it different but the intent is the opposite. It is designed to discriminate,"  says Senator Daylin Leach.

A narrow misinterpretation, according to the Pennsylvania Family Institute.

They said in a statement: 'Whether it's forcing employers to pay for abortion-inducing drugs or forcing business owners to be a part of a same-sex wedding ceremony, the government should not infringe on fundamental freedoms.'

Freedoms that also extend to customers.

"I would rather recycle my pink dollar elsewhere and use it somewhere that respects who I am and respects me as a citizen," Angela says.

Taking business elsewhere is something both sides of the issue agree seem to on.

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